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A week after a violent mob entered the U.S. Capitol, threatened lawmakers and forced evacuees, members returned to the House for a touching and often angry debate over the president’s recriminations, many argued he had instigated to the riot which had left five dead.
House of Representatives approved an impeachment article on Wednesday against President Trump for “inciting insurgency,” with 10 Republicans joining all Democrats in a 232-197 vote. The article is now heading to the Senate, which is not expected to meet again until next week.
Crowds of armed National Guard soldiers were positioned around the Capitol building and they lined the streets around the buildings housing the members’ offices and the area where Joe Biden will be sworn in next Wednesday.
There was a bipartisan standing ovation for the members of the United States Capitol Police, who no doubt saved members, assistants and reporters from a much worse outcome. But Washington and the country are still in shock at the images of the attack. As more details emerge about how it was orchestrated and the severity of the threats, the political fallout is sure to continue.
Here are 4 ways impeachment is already changing the political world:
1. President Trump makes history
President Trump has broken standards since he rode the golden escalator until he announced his presidential campaign in 2015. Now he has a distinction in the history books that no president wants. – the first to be dismissed twice. He is also the president who got the most members of his own party to vote for impeachment.
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The president’s strong support among Republicans in Congress upon his impeachment in 2019 prompted all lawmakers in the GOP House to oppose the articles of impeachment. These articles accused the president of urging a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 elections for his benefit. Only one Republican in the Senate, Mitt Romney of Utah, voted he was guilty of an abuse of power article.
2. The cracks in the Republican Party are open and getting bigger in real time
There is no sign that the president’s base is abandoning him, but the split among Congressional Republicans over the party’s future is accelerating after the events of last week, and it’s happening in real time.
Now that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Has made it clear that no trial will take place until Trump leaves, the Senate vote is now on whether Trump will be again able to stand for election. There is a legal debate on whether it is binding, but how Senate Republicans approach it will say a lot about their call for who should lead the party going forward.
The trial will essentially be a proxy vote for lawmakers sit on the GOP spectrum – as a staunch supporter of a president who has won broad bipartisan condemnation for his role in urging far-right extremists to resort to violence, or as a more member of the establishment which may want to revive the party’s conservative approach to budgetary matters and a strong national defense posture.
McConnell, who has not spoken to Trump, told his colleagues he was not ruling out voting to condemn the president. A week ago, no one could imagine that there would even be a question.
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Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman, who is due for re-election in mid-term in 2022, has indicated he is also prepared to reprimand the president. “If the Senate proceeds to an impeachment trial, I will do my jury duty and listen to the cases presented by both parties,” he said in a statement after the House vote.
Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger told NPR he believes “there’s a pretty big chance the Senate will vote to impeach President Trump.” He said the number of senators who planned to formally oppose the Electoral College’s results had declined after the attacks and said: “I think with each passing day there will be people who will regret their non-vote in as more information is released. “
Those who have broken up with the president are well aware that they could isolate themselves. Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican Leader, was one of 10 who supported impeachment. She never spoke in the House and made it known that she thought it was a vote of conscience, but her vote could potentially cost her her place at the leadership table.
The spotlight is now on senators who may want to mount a bid for the White House in 2024 – Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and Texas Senator Ted Cruz have chosen the path of the Trump base champions. Others like Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who opposed the effort to challenge the Jan. 6 election votes, could take up the torch of the conservative establishment.
3. President-elect Biden’s agenda gets complicated
Even before Wednesday’s vote, Biden’s allies were openly concerned about what the start of the impeachment train would mean for the new president’s ability to secure Senate confirmation for his cabinet candidates and to push for top priorities. such as relief from coronaviruses. Now that reality sets in and the trial will likely begin shortly after Biden takes office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Has appointed impeachment officials and items are expected to be delivered to the Senate soon, potentially even before it is back in session on Jan.19.
We do not know who will defend the president. NPR’s Tamara Keith reports that three of the attorneys – Jay Sekulow, Jane Raskin and Marty Raskin – who worked on the team last time would not be in a lawsuit this time. But who chooses the president could set the tone.
Biden said he is consulting with senators and parliamentarian to move forward simultaneously with a trial and continue to hold hearings and votes on his top agency officials, but non-stop news about the insurgency keeps it going. front page and the main article on most news reports.
“Impeachment is now like a primitive cry,” said Democratic Representative for Tennessee Jim Cooper. But he said the Democrats’ “main goal” should be to swear in the two new Democratic senators from Georgia – Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock – and for both houses to get to work to help the new administration succeed. He said the Senate could “walk and chew gum” at the same time.
4. The US Capitol was changed forever on January 6.
Images of magnetometers stationed around the Chamber’s chamber, National Guard troops napping on marble floors pampering their weapons, and the remains of broken windows show that things have changed dramatically in the building. The symbol of democracy was once a frequent tourist attraction before the pandemic for school groups learning about the founders and history of the country. Now he has a new picture of what can happen when political rhetoric causes supporters to turn on their opponents.
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The new security measures will likely stick around for some time. While members praised law enforcement and there are amazing stories of those who fought the mob, the serious security failures have caused many lawmakers to question the leaders of force, and an inevitable lengthy investigation could reveal much more disturbing information about what happened.
But lawmakers themselves have also changed. Several Democrats accused GOP lawmakers during the impeachment debate of being “co-conspirators” and “accomplices” to the attack – a serious charge, but they did not provide evidence. It was already difficult for lawmakers to develop relationships across the aisle, with many members no longer moving families to Washington. Members rarely socialized with members of another party. The confidence level has really changed over the last week. Some Democrats have already pledged not to work with Republicans who voted to challenge the election results.
The series of quick events gave MPs little time to figure out how to get back to legislative business. Three big events in three weeks – an insurgency on the day Congress met for what is usually a ceremonial task of counting electoral votes, followed by a lightning-quick impeachment and an inauguration that will be reduced to the health crisis made the first days of the New Congress historic in multiple ways.